Truckers ‘bomb away’

By Aaron Wiens

What should you do if you are driving on the highway and you really need to release some excess fluids?

If you are one of many truckers, you grab the nearest jug. And then if you are a rude trucker, you toss it out the window.

The result is so-called “trucker bombs” that litter almost every highway throughout the nation.

No one knows the exact amount of urine that is stored along the sides of our nation’s highways and byways, but one thing is for sure – trucker bombs are going off everywhere.

“We pick them up with the regular trash all the time,” said Kevin Marchek, engineer of operations for the Illinois Department of Transportation.

If picking up bottles of urine along the side of the road sounds like a bad job, then what kind of job is it when you mow over urine-filled trucker bombs?

In Illinois, mowers used alongside highways are equipped with large plastic shields and bigger bumpers to try and limit the explosion.

Marchek said his department has not had an explosion in a while because of the shields and bumpers.

Filling the bombs is a fairly common practice among truckers, but the disposal method varies.

“I have a jug that I use all of the time,” said Joe Millis, an over-the-road trucker for Millis Transportation who was stopped at the Petro Trucker Store in Rochelle. “But I do not just wing them anywhere I please. You have to dispose of them properly.”

Some truckers even make mini-bombs they use to even the score with pesky automobiles, Millis said.

“I have heard of some truckers filling up Ziplock bags and tossing them at cars that speed or cut us off,” he said.

Filling up bottles is not the only disposal method in use by some truckers.

Hoses that run from the driver’s seat to the outside of the truck are in use by some, Millis said.

Fixing the bomb problem is a little tougher than one might think.

“First off there needs to be more rest facilities,” said Clinton Rushing, a retired OTR truck driver from Bloomington. “Second, they need more truck parking spaces at the rest stops they have.”

Truck drivers that pull off the road in the evening usually cannot get a parking space so they have to park in an isolated place without any restroom facilities, Rushing said.

Embarrassment causes most truckers to toss their bombs onto the side of the road instead of placing them where they belong, he said.

“Are you really going to walk into a gas station with a giant yellowish gallon of milk so you can dispose of it properly?” he asked. “No, you are going to get rid of it as fast as possible.”

The punishment for bombing the highways with urine jugs varies with each jurisdiction.

In DeKalb a citation for public defacement leads to a fine of at least $50 and a court date, said Sgt. Jason Leverton of the DeKalb Police Department.

“Beyond all of the biological pathogens and communicable diseases, it is disgusting,” he said.